Know the Dental Needs Related to Cleft Lip or Palate

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cleft palateParents whose child is born with a cleft lip or palate are immediately thrust into an advocate role for which they feel ill-prepared. The team at Cleft and Facial Cosmetic Surgery Center near New Orleans understands the emotional disruption that stems from discovering such a facial deformity. Dr. James has received training from leaders in the field of Cleft and Craniofacial Surgery, and he combines his wealth of professional knowledge with a passion for improving the lives of children affected by this common birth defect.

When you consult with us, you can expect to receive the support you need to navigate the surgical repair of your child’s cleft lip or palate, as well as information related to ongoing care, such as how to manage your child’s oral health after cleft surgery.

Late last year, the Journal of Dental Research published data from a study performed at Seattle Children’s Research Institute which focused on dental problems associated with cleft lip and palate, and from where they may develop. Interestingly, findings of this study suggest that abnormal salivary glands are to blame for a marked increase in tooth decay and gum problems.

Normal Oral Function

In a healthy mouth, saliva is excreted by the salivary glands on an ongoing basis. We tend to think of saliva as the fluid that keeps the mouth moist. However, there are also protective immune compounds within saliva that inhibit decay and other oral conditions. Saliva is also vital to the maintenance of the delicate acidic balance in the mouth. This part of the body is naturally acidic, and unmanaged acidity is a primary culprit in cavities and gum disease.

In the patient with cleft lip or palate, it seems that the same gene mutation behind the birth defect is also responsible for the successful development of the salivary glands. According to the data from the Seattle study, the ducts of the salivary glands of an affected individual do not produce an adequate amount of protective fluid to buffer the effects of acidity and oral bacteria.

What this Means for You

Research data is significant because, until this study, very little attention was given to the effect cleft lip or palate has on salivary glands; and yet these glands are a critical element to lifelong oral health. This breakthrough will enable doctors and dentists to formulate new standards of care. Importantly, parents who understand this link are better able to advocate for their child, discussing preventive care with their dentist as their child develops.

Would you like more information about cleft lip or palate repair? We would love to speak with you. Call 504-378-2030.

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